Cash incentive under the financial assistance scheme continued to elude as many as 198 eligible inter-caste married couples in the Bhadrachalam agency.

The scheme is aimed at providing financial support to poor inter-caste married couples subject to fulfilment of eligibility conditions like one of the spouses should be from a tribal community.

Although the organisations fighting against casteism claimed that the incentive had been hiked from Rs 10,000 to 50,000, the officials concerned of the tribal welfare department in the agency feigned ignorance of any such development.

A total of 198 applications from the inter-caste married couples have been pending with the officials of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Bhadrachalam, for more than two years. “The inordinate delay in sanction of the assured cash incentive to eligible inter-caste married couples exposes the hollow claims of the persons at the helm of affairs,” charged Kula Vivaksha Porata Samithi district general secretary N Manohar. “The scheme was introduced several years ago with an objective to promote inter-caste marriages and end casteism. However, it's implementation is plagued by government's apathy,” he said. The number of inter-caste married couples is several times more than those applied for the incentive. Many other couples are unable to avail the scheme due to various reasons including lack of awareness about the provisions of the scheme in the tribal sub-plan mandals, Mr Manohar noted.

As many as 198 applications for sanction of incentive have been pending with our department in the agency, said M Saraswati, Deputy Director, Tribal Welfare Department.

The government has released Rs 40,000 a few days ago, she said adding that the amount would be disbursed among four couples based on seniority; she said adding that the cash incentive of Rs 10,000 each would be handed over to the remaining eligible couples as and when the government releases the required funds.

We have not received any official communication on the enhancement of the incentive from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000. As far as our tribal welfare department is concerned each eligible inter-caste couple in the agency is entitled for Rs 10,000 incentive, she said.